|Full Synopsis: Plot Details Follow|
|The year is 1905.
As a young Roy Mustang stands, decked out in his new military uniform, in the home laboratory of his alchemy mentor, the master of the house informs his protégé that he is not ready to learn Flame Alchemy and that it was a waste to teach even the basics of alchemy to someone who would lower himself to being a Dog of the Military. Roy argues that alchemy is to be used in the service of the people and that the State Military is the organization best poised to offer that service to those in need, but the ailing master angrily rebuffs this excuse. Young Mustang laments his master's poverty and explains that a State certification would lift him from the squalor of this decrepit mansion and even allow him to complete his research, but the old man explains that he had completed his research long ago - a research into the most powerful and destructive form of alchemy possible. Lamenting that his life as an alchemist ended when his research ended, the master succumbs to a coughing fit and collapses on the floor. Roy panics and rushes to his teacher's aid, his cries of concern revealing his mentor's surname to be Hawkeye. Master Hawkeye whispers a request that Mustang look after his young daughter and explains that she alone holds the record of his finished work.
A few days later, just after the Master's funeral, Roy stands before his grave with the young Riza, who thanks Mustang for his help with the funeral preparations. He gives her his contact information and urges her to contact him in the military if she ever needs anything. Asking if she, too, will condemn him for taking on the uniform, Roy mentions that his dream is to become a part of the country's foundation and protect its people with his own strength but Riza replies that it's a wonderful dream and hopes for a day when everyone will live happily and wonders if Roy is the right person to carry out her father's dreams.
In the present day, Lt. Hawkeye showers in her apartment and as the water flows down her back, over a large and ornate tattoo half obscured with large burn scars, she hears Black Hayate barking at the front door. Exiting the shower and checking on the noise, she discovers that Edward Elric has dropped by for a visit and invites him inside. Explaining that he has heard of Hawkeye's dubious new reassignment, Ed returns the lieutenant's gun, which she promptly begins cleaning. Ed then goes on to explain to her everything that has happened since they last met - including the incident with Scar and Winry. Ed laments his inability to abide by firearms and chides himself for being so naive when, as much as Winry cried over her parents, his and Al's deaths would cause her additional pain. Hawkeye urges Ed to hold on to that feeling so that he might survive for the sake of those who care for him and advises him to protect Winry if he loves her so much - to which Ed responds with embarrassed denial. Riza then apologizes for adding to his burdens by giving him the gun and Ed responds by asking her if the gun has ever seemed a heavy burden to her. Riza replies that the fact that she has taken so many people's lives of her own volition means she no longer has the right to complain of it as a burden and, understanding that she means the lives of Ishvalans, asks if she can tell him about what happened during the Ishval Civil War.
The year is 1901. The people living in the harsh, unforgiving desert land of Ishval are relatively discontented by the recent annexation of their homeland by the larger nation of Amestris, but are able to keep their agitation in check until an Amestrian soldier accidentally shoots and kills an Ishvalan child. The tension becomes rage and the rage fuels a series of riots that become a war - a war that spreads across the East Area of Amestris like a plague and continues for seven years.
The year is 1908. Tired of the unending battles in the East, Führer King Bradley signs Executive Order #3066, calling the State Alchemists to battle on the front lines. Riza Hawkeye, a young sniper in the war zone, contemplates the fact that the death of enemies is only absolute when facing either snipers or State Alchemists. The Iron Blood Alchemist Basque Grand, the Strong-Arm Alchemist Alex Louis Armstrong, the Freezing Alchemist Isaac McDougal, the Silver Alchemist Giolio Comanche, the Crimson Lotus Alchemist Solf J. Kimblee and the Flame Alchemist Roy Mustang cause untold devastation in Ishval, wiping out scores of rebels despite some having doubts as to whether or not their actions are justified. As an injured Comanche is pulled from the field, the young Captain Maes Hughes recognizes his old military school classmate Roy in the camp and starts a conversation with him. However, each of them can see that the other's eyes have become clouded by the lives they have had to take. They go for a walk and lament that their youthful ideals have been overwritten by the horrible future they have helped create. As they wonder what on earth Ishval could hold to substantiate such a gross military expenditure, they are approached by Cadet Hawkeye, whom Roy is dismayed to see has also gained the eyes of a killer.
Back in the camp, Hawkeye asks Mustang why soldiers are murdering their fellow citizens instead of protecting them and why alchemy, which is to be used in the service of the people, is being used as to kill people. The nearby Solf J. Kimblee, overhearing the conversation, responds haughtily that it is so because using alchemy as a weapon falls under a State Alchemist's job description and killing people falls under the job description of a soldier. Roy becomes angered at Kimblee's remark, but the Crimson Lotus Alchemist explains that it's people like Mustang and Hawkeye that he can't understand. He asks them if they had accepted their military uniforms and entered a battlefield without realizing that they would be called on to kill. The call to action comes and Kimblee departs for his next mission, but when Hughes does the same, Roy stops him and asks his friend why he continues to fight. Maes replies simply that he fights because he doesn't want to be killed and adds that, though the reason may be simple, people's reasons to act are always just as simple.
In the present day, Marcoh explains to Scar that part of the reason for the war was the development of a Philosopher's Stone. Several Ishvalan prisoners of war were brought to Laboratory 5 in Central City where the Five-Point Transmutation Circle was used to draw out their souls and condense them into a single Stone. Infuriated, Scar demands to know what happened to the Philosopher's Stone and Marcoh replies that it was given to Solf J. Kimblee. Recognizing the name, Scar remembers Kimblee's attack on his family and the death of his brother.
The year is 1908. As Solf Kimblee single-handedly decimates huge areas of Ishval with the help of the Philosopher's Stone, the tide of the entire war shifts. Logue Lowe, the Grand Cleric of the Ishvalan religion, surrenders himself to Führer Bradley in exchange for the lives of all his surviving countrymen, but Bradley refuses the trad outright, remarking that Lowe's life is worth only one life and cannot be compared to the tens of thousands of remaining Ishvalans. Lowe's adherents cry out that God will punish Bradley for his wickedness, but the Führer responds that God is merely a concept created by humans and that if anyone wishes punishment upon another, he must enact it with his own hands instead of relying on a deity.
The war finally draws to a close and, as the soldiers prepare to be shipped home, Hughes and Mustang express their newfound disillusionment with the military. However, Mustang has hope that the system can be changed and longs to complete his original dream of protecting the citizens with his own power, shielding those beneath him and urging those beneath him to protect those beneath them. Some time later, after Roy is placed in a command position at East Area Headquarters, he is approached by Riza Hawkeye, who has remained in the military after the war and requests to be stationed under him. After hearing that she plans to bear the suffering of others so that a future without suffering can be forged, Mustang appoints Riza as his adjutant and bodyguard, authorizing her to shoot him should he ever step off of the correct path.
In the present, Edward asserts that, even if Mustang does become Führer, the nation won't change so long as it remains a military state; Hawkeye explains that the Colonel plans to appoint greater democratic power to the national assembly and seek the prosecution of war criminals like himself. Ed is shocked to hear that Roy is taking such a potentially self-destructive path, but Riza declares that it is their duty and penance for what they have done. Switching gears, she urges Ed to return Al and himself to their original forms, so as to bring happiness to the people who care about them.
Alphonse prepares to leave Dr. Knox's house and bids farewell to May, who thanks him for all his help. As Al introduces himself properly, May realizes that the Fullmetal Alchemist is his older brother and suggests that they are of the same temperament; taking offense, Al describes himself as a much more dignified person than his brother and insists that his human body is more handsome than Ed's. Hearing this, May's affections shift rather sharply from the elder Elric to the younger.
Beneath Central Command, Envy brings a fresh meal to Marcoh's room, but discovers upon entering that the doctor's broken and headless body is splayed on the floor, his blood painting the word "Vengeance" across the wall.
- This episode is adapted from content in Chapter 57: Scars of Ishval, Chapter 58: The Footsteps of Ruin, Chapter 59: The Immoral Alchemist, Chapter 60: In the Absence of God, Chapter 61: The Hero of Ishval and Chapter 62: Beyond the Dream.
- The Transmutation Circle which appears in the background of this episode's title card is the Flame Alchemy circle tattooed on Riza Hawkeye's back.
- This episode reveals Riza's father's name to be Berthold Hawkeye, a fact that was not revealed in the manga.
- In the corresponding manga chapter, Riza is alerted to Ed's presence by a knock at the door rather than Hayate's barking.
- In this episode, the letter Hughes receives from Gracia marks that Maes is part of the 27th Infantry Battalion.
- This episode has the dubious honor of being the most abridged in the series, with more than an entire volume of manga being reduced to a single episode.
- The events surrounding Brigadier General Fessler and, indeed, Fessler himself are not depicted in this episode. He did, however, get a single scene with Armstrong one episode prior.
- Riza Hawkeye sniping and killing an Ishvalan rogue, who was nearly within assassination range of both Hughes and Mustang, before reintroducing herself to them is cut. In this version, she merely walks up after they finish talking.
- The events surrounding Solf Kimblee's orders to assassinate the Rockbells, as well as his theft of the Philosopher's Stone and other appearances, are not depicted in this episode. The latter is shown in the following episode, but the shot of Envy watching and congratulating Kimblee for such an act is not included. However, the shot of Envy is included in the third opening theme.
- Marcoh's recollection of Lab 5 in the manga originally had a Lust cameo, watching as the stone is made (following the volume revised version rather than the original magazine release, where the Slicer brothers and Barry the Chopper were also are present).
- The showing of this episode on Adult Swim had the ending, in which Envy finds Marcoh's corpse and the word "VENGEANCE" scribed on the back wall, cut.
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